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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

R. v. Croome [1849] NSWSupC 29

criminal appeals

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen C.J. and Dickinson J., 30 November 1849

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 6 December 1849, in Supreme Court Collection, Vol. 3, pp 50-51

This was a point reserved from the Parramatta Court of Quarter Sessions for the decision of the Supreme Court, under the provisions of the Act of Council for authorising such references from inferior tribunals.

The prisoner, Samuel Croome, was convicted and sentence to twelve months imprisonment for obtaining goods under false pretence from one Gilmore. It appeared that Croome had obtained goods and money from Gilmore upon the presentation of a cheque for £5, drawn by one Rowland in favour of one Costello. In the evidence it was shown that Rowland was apparently about eighteen years of age, and weak in intellect; that he was supposed to have written the cheque at a time when a number of persons were teasing him in a public-house; that it was torn and cast on the ground by the landlord; and that the prisoner had been seen in the bar shortly before this took place. It likewise appeared that the prisoner had given three different accounts of the way in which he had become possessed of the cheque; one of which was that he had received it from Costello, the payee. On the other hand, neither Rowland nor Costello were called, and it was not shown that the cheque had ever been presented at the Bank of New South Wales, upon which it was drawn.

Mr. HOLROYD for the prisoner contended that the Chairman was not warranted in sending the case to the Jury, inasmuch as there was no proof of the cheque being a spurious one. In the absence of any such presentation, there was no proof but that there might have been funds to meet it. The learned gentleman relied upon the cases of the King v. Flint , in Russell v. Ryan, the King v. Spencer, in 3 Carrington and Payne, and the King v. Parker in Moody's Crown cases.

Mr. CALLAGHAN, in support of the conviction, contended that there was sufficient evidence to show a knowledge on the part of the prisoner that the cheque was not a valid one. It had been shown that Rowland was a person who could not legally draw a cheque, and that the cheque when drawn had been cancelled; also that Costello, the alleged payee, was in the same employment with the prisoner, and might have been called by the latter. Finally, it was contended by Mr. Callaghan, that there was no legal proof of the existence of such a bank as the Bank of New South Wales.

Mr. HOLROYD having replied, their Honors reserved Judgment.


Stephen C.J. and Dickinson J., December 1849

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 10 December 1849, in Supreme Court Collection, Vol. 3, pp 50-51

The following is the judgment of the Court in this case:---

We have heard this case argued by Mr. Callaghan for the Crown, and by Mr. Holroyd for the prisoner, when the following cases were cited:--- Flint's case, R. and R. 460; Spencer's case, 3 C. and P. 420; Parker's case, Wood. 1; and Freeth's case, R. and R. 129.

We have, since the argument, conferred together, and with Mr. Justice Therry, on the question reserved for our opinion; which is, in substance, whether the evidence at the trial was sufficient to support the indictment against the prisoner? And we all think, that the evidence was not sufficient.

It appears to us, that, although there is ample evidence that the prisoner was conscious of guilt of some kind, there was not evidence that he knew the check to be invalid. It is consistent with the evidence, that the prisoner may have stolen the check, or picked it up knowing it not to belong to him; or he may have received it from some third person, who stole or picked it up. In either case, he may have supposed that the check would be honoured, although he (the prisoner) was not entitled to it or the proceeds. When the goods, therefore, and the change, were demanded back from him, his apprehension of detection in this respect may have led to his restoration of them, without any knowledge existing on his part that, in fact, the check was not an available one.

It moreover does not appear to us, that there was sufficient evidence of the check having been in fact unavailable. The young man Roland may have had money in the Bank, and have intended to use the check himself, notwithstanding its having been torn across by the witness Curran. For anything which appears, indeed, it is quite possible---however unlikely---that Rowland may have taken the check from the floor, in its torn state, with intent to use it; and it may afterwards have been stolen from him.

It will be observed, that there was no evidence in the case to show, that the prisoner was present at the tearing of the check; or what afterwards became of Rowland, or the check. It was shown, however, that there was such a bank as the Bank of New South Wales; first, because the prisoner said to the prosecutor "the check is good, if the Bank is good"---which implied the existence of such a Bank;---and, secondly, because the Act of Council regulating suits on behalf of that Bank, (or a Bank having the same name,) is a public Act, of which Courts and the public are supposed to be cognizant.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University